Moral judgements are matter of perspective

I read Alex Cameron’s Private View – Designs on morality (DW 16 April) – and recognised this familiar dilemma.

A few years ago, I was asked to design a T-shirt commemorating Colonel Gaddafi – it was his 50th birthday or something. I asked the account handler: “Are you sure we should be doing this?” The response was that good old Colonel Gaddafi had raised the living standards of his people to one of the best in the region and had put in place one of the best health services in the world (his words not mine).

So it appears to me to be a matter of perspective, and who am I to say my morals are better than the next man’s/woman’s? We are surely here to service the needs of the client to the best of our abilities, and generally make them as much money as we can – now there’s a moral dilemma in itself.

I am in the position of being a partner in a successful partnership, an account handler and a designer, so I get the best (or worst) of all worlds, and am possibly able to see the dilemmas better than most – morality or profit?

Designers should pride themselves on providing the client with the solution to their needs, not as some designers do provide an unmemorable message to a pretty picture, rather than the “job first, pretty second” approach.

If you take the “moral designer” to its conclusion, we could end up with the situation where we refuse to:

advertise disposable nappies for the environmental damage they do;

work for food companies because of CJD, the ecological decimation of our fish stocks, or the creation of heart disease; and

work for motor manufacturers because of pollution.

Where would it end?

Spencer Lyon


Freestone Design Consultants

Bucks MK11 1YT

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